Reports are leaking that Iran has tentatively agreed to ship its uranium to Russia for enrichment. Russia would then convert the uranium into fuel rods for Iran to then use in its Bushehr nuclear power plant. Once the uranium has been converted into fuel rods it is extremely difficult to convert for use in nuclear weapons.
If the deal moves forward, it could mark a major breakthrough in negotiations, which have been slow going over the last several weeks. Both sides have dug in their heels, and without a major break through it’s unlikely that an agreement will be reached.
The Russian deal, however, could go a long way in easing fears of Western leaders, while also allowing Iran to pursue peaceful nuclear energy.
Key Deadline Looms To Reach Agreement
A November 24th deadline has been set for Iran and Western powers to come to agreement on the country’s nuclear programs. Western countries, including the United States, have long argued that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, a charge which Iran vehemently denies.
The Iranian government claims that its nuclear programs are for peaceful purposes, namely to develop nuclear energy, and that the development of nuclear weapons would go against the principles of Islam. The Iranian government has also made it clear that it is unwilling to abandon its nuclear programs all together.
Up until now this has seemed to be an impossible impasse. The United States and other world-leading governments will not accept Iran and its continued development of nuclear programs that could eventually be weaponized. At the same time Iran will not abandon its nuclear ambitions all-together.
At first glance the fact that Russia is the government stepping forward to enrich the uranium may seem a bit odd. Russia certainly posses the capacity to develop said uranium, and also has long standing ties with Iran. But Russia has been at odds with the European Union and the United States over the last several months due to tensions in Ukraine.
With the United States leading negotiations with Iran, it is somewhat surprising to see Russia being tabbed as the provider of the key break through that could lead to a real and sustainable breakthrough in negotiations. Still, a nuclear-armed Iran is in no one’s interest and could destabilize the already fragile Middle East.
The battles between ISIS and the governments of Iraq and Syria are both pitched along religious lines. While ISIS consists of Sunni Muslims, most of the governments it is currently targeting are Shitte dominated. A nuclear armed Iran would only increase tensions between Shitte and Sunni Muslims across the region.